There has been a lot of cinematic water under the bridge of my life between the last time I’d seen Michele Soavi’s “Cemetery Man” and last night’s screening of that film at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design. While I count that movie as a favorite, I was a little nervous about re-watching it and maybe falling out of love. I had a sad experience with not enjoying Soavi’s “Stage Fright” as much as I’d remembered a few months back, and I wasn’t eager to revisit that feeling.
While I was growing up, I struggled with my expectations of female role models. While it was simple for me to shrug off or embrace the shortcomings of male artists, filmmakers, musicians, and actors, there was always a little place in my heart yearning for an ideal woman who was courageous, talented, and prolific in her self-expression while maintaining a unique character and a captivating public persona. I realize now how completely unfair it was to expect that of any human being–we’re all entitled to our limitations, regardless of gender.
One of the things that made me fascinated with the world of Italian adult comics (fumetti neri and erotici) was the fact that I liked to fill in the blanks where my meager knowledge of Italian started to fail me. Certainly the ideas behind these dirty stories are no sillier than the ones in mainstream American comics–sometimes if I want to feel really high without actually ingesting anything mind-altering, I read Wiki articles on Marvel Universe characters. I was recently learning about alternate versions of The Hulk, and I couldn’t get past the fact that there’s something called the Professor Hulk that’s not an comedy YouTube program. While that shit is most certainly nuts and compelling, it lacks an important factor: graphic nudity.
After fleeing from He-Who-Lives-Without-Pleasure, Zita is kidnapped by a yeti, who everyone thinks has rapey intentions, but it turns out they’re all jerks with unfounded prejudices and the yeti has a much more romantic side.
It’s a fact that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Take point A and connect it to point B, don’t deviate, stay the course, ruler and pen to paper, et voila! Simplicity itself. What works so beautifully on graph paper doesn’t necessarily translate as well to the craft of storytelling, and it’s rare that I see a more crystal-clear example of this than in Fred Williamson’s 1983 crime drama “The Big Score,” a movie I prefer to call “Look In the Goddamn Trunk, You Idiots” for reasons that will become apparent shortly.
- Cheech (the overweight, barbeque-loving informant who tips the cops off to the plot-igniting drug sale)
- Mayfield’s henchman
- Hooks’ cat
- Mayfield’s dog
I was having lunch with my dad a few months back, going over movies we’d recently seen, and he expressed surprise that Hammer Studios put out several of “those European Titty Movies” during the 1970s. For my dad as well as for many folks reading this now, “The Vampire Lovers” probably embodies the Platonic Ideal of the European Titty Movie.* Think about it–“Countess Dracula” is “The Vampire Lovers” from the vampire’s POV, “Twins of Evil” is “The Vampire Lovers” with twins, “Lust for a Vampire” is “The Vampire Lovers” sent to boarding school. And then there’s all the other post-“Vampire Lovers” output from the Continent. Yes, “The Vampire Lovers” is kind of the International Prototype Kilogram against which all other units of weight must be measured–just substitute “European Titty Movie” for “units of weight.” Vampires provide a convenient (read: “cheap and frequently naked”) axis for the plot of the European Titty Movie, but satanic cults, mad scientists and man-monsters like the werewolf function pretty well in their stead.
One rarely has a neutral, even-keel day living in the sprawl of New York City. There’s a Sensory Overload factor to existing among millions of people, each with a unique look, smell, agenda and physical presence. Sometimes the trajectory of your day puts you in contact with interesting folks and sometimes you’re doomed to a less pleasant fellow-human-related experience (I don’t need to tell you that a 95-degree-plus heatwave does nothing good for the atmosphere on the city’s subway platforms). There’s an intensity inherent in living in an urban environment and that means one has to suffer through the lousy stuff in order to savor the good moments. It’s pretty much like living inside a mood swing, and it’s not always your own mood swing.